‘Can’t this just f*cking exist? Can’t a play from a person like me just be a f*cking play already?’: Metamodern Self-reflexivity as an approach to tackling Black Trauma Narratives in Arinzé Kene’s Misty (2018)

Conference paper


Drayton, T. 2024. ‘Can’t this just f*cking exist? Can’t a play from a person like me just be a f*cking play already?’: Metamodern Self-reflexivity as an approach to tackling Black Trauma Narratives in Arinzé Kene’s Misty (2018). Recentring Form(s) in and of the Margins: The Politics of Self-Reflexivity. Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, Belgium 24 - 26 Apr 2024
AuthorsDrayton, T.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Variably described as ‘a blend of gig-theatre, spoken word [and] live art’ (Kene 2018) or a ‘qausi-musical’ (Meyer 2023), playwright and performer Arinzé Kene’s Misty (2018) employs metatheatrical storytelling to intertwine two narratives – the story of a young, Black man’s experience of gentrification in Hackney, East London, and the story of Kene dealing with the criticism levered upon him during the development and performance of the piece itself. Misty marked only the fourth time a play by a Black British playwright transferred to London’s West End, and Kene’s performance cross-examines his own position within a predominantly white theatre scene – challenging his paradoxical requirement to both appeal to the (commercial) expectations for a ‘Black Play’, and his own friends’ and family’s accusations of his commodification and repetition of the trope of Black Trauma Narratives for white audiences (cf. Brady & Delle 2023).

As theatre moves beyond postmodernism (Bogart 2014; Lavender 2016; Schulze 2017), the use of metatheatrical and self-reflexive devices has shifted in application. Whilst postmodern reflexivity called attention to the limitations of the piece – reminding the reader that ‘the work is, indeed, a piece of “work” and so not to be entirely “trusted” (Dember 2018) – metamodern (Vermeulen & can den Akker 2010) self-reflexivity draws attention to the felt experience of the artist and / or audience (cf. Dember 2018, Drayton 2024). Kene’s use of such aesthetics highlights his own complex positionality and centres how he – as both person and playwright/performer – feels about this complexity throughout. Drawing on Cahill (2015) and Sibthorpe’s (2018) understanding of levels of contemporary metatheatricality, this paper examines how Kene’s use of self-reflexive storytelling oscillates between the real and the fake, between the impassioned and the hopeless, between being a Black Trauma play and a play centring on the problematics of Black Trauma plays. Misty’s metamodern self-reflexivity questions the purpose, impact and responsibility of theatre – and who is allowed to perform it – whilst simultaneously extolling the power of staging such work.

KeywordsMetamodernism; Self-Reflexivity; Black Trauma Narratives; Metamodern Theatre; Misty; Arinzé Kent
Year2024
ConferenceRecentring Form(s) in and of the Margins: The Politics of Self-Reflexivity
File
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Publication process dates
Completed26 Apr 2024
Deposited03 Jun 2024
Copyright holder© 2024, The Author
Permalink -

https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/8xw99

Restricted files

File

  • 11
    total views
  • 1
    total downloads
  • 11
    views this month
  • 1
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Notes on [a] Metamodernism [conference]
Drayton, T. 2023. Notes on [a] Metamodernism [conference]. in: Kavanagh, K. and Hamer, T. (ed.) The Really Fantastic and the Fantastically Real: Doing Circus Now Cardiff, UK Metamodern Festival. pp. 8 - 12
'It's All So Pointless. Ah, But It's Not Though, Is It? It's Really Real and When You Feel It You Can Really Feel It': Theatre and Performance within Metamodernism
Drayton, T. 2023. 'It's All So Pointless. Ah, But It's Not Though, Is It? It's Really Real and When You Feel It You Can Really Feel It': Theatre and Performance within Metamodernism. The Metamodern Circus. NoFit State Circus, Cardiff (UK) 26 - 26 May 2023 The Circus Diaries.
I Really Don't Care, Do You?: The Philosophical Problems of Producing or Performing Empathy in Contemporary Performance.
Drayton, T., Christodoulou, P., Corsa, A. and Goldstein, T. 2022. I Really Don't Care, Do You?: The Philosophical Problems of Producing or Performing Empathy in Contemporary Performance. Performance Philosophy Conference 2022. Units Helsinki 15 - 18 Jun 2022
The Gaming Democracy Project: Virtual Democracy in the Age of Fascism IRL (In Real Life)
Dunne-Howrie, J. and Drayton, T. 2022. The Gaming Democracy Project: Virtual Democracy in the Age of Fascism IRL (In Real Life). Zip-Scene 2022. Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, Hungary 10 - 12 Nov 2022
Can I Join In? Playful Performance and Alternative Political Realities
Drayton, T. 2022. Can I Join In? Playful Performance and Alternative Political Realities. in: Koubová, A., Urban, P., Russell, W. and MacLean, M. (ed.) Play and Democracy: Philosophical Perspectives Routledge. pp. 108-124
Meet Me Through the Webcam: An Ethics of Participatory Performance Practice in the Age of Zoom
Drayton, T. 2021. Meet Me Through the Webcam: An Ethics of Participatory Performance Practice in the Age of Zoom. CATR-SQET 2021: Crisis and Recovery: Theatre and Performance Before and After the Global Pandemic. University of Ottawa, Canada 10 Jun - 10 Jul 2021
‘Unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time’: Anti-Racist Activism and the Performativity of Statues
Drayton, T. 2021. ‘Unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time’: Anti-Racist Activism and the Performativity of Statues. Performance & Populism: Mobilization, Popular Power, and Embodiment on the Left. University of Warwick & University of Berkeley California 03 - 05 Nov 2021
Should I Be Joking in a Time Like This?: Bo Burnham's INSIDE as a Metamodern Response to Crisis
Drayton, T. 2021. Should I Be Joking in a Time Like This?: Bo Burnham's INSIDE as a Metamodern Response to Crisis.
Authenticity in the Arts and Media in an Era of Fake News: Loss & Hope
Drayton, T. 2019. Authenticity in the Arts and Media in an Era of Fake News: Loss & Hope. Authenticity in the Arts and Media in an Era of ‘Fake News’. University of East London, UK 07 Feb 2019
Can I Join In? Playful Performance as Political Intervention
Drayton, T. 2019. Can I Join In? Playful Performance as Political Intervention. Play and Democracy: The fifth biennial Philosophy at Play conference. The Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague 24 - 26 Jun 2019
Hope/Less: The Politics of Metamodern Theatre
Drayton, T. 2019. Hope/Less: The Politics of Metamodern Theatre. 4th AHRC Metamodernism Network Conference. Radboud University, Nijmegen 03 - 05 Jul 2019
A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance
Drayton, T. 2019. A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance . Artspraxis. 5 (2), pp. 169-184.
Listening Theatre: The New Politics of Millennial Performance Makers
Drayton, T. 2018. Listening Theatre: The New Politics of Millennial Performance Makers. NYU Educational Theatre Forum 2018: 'Performance as Activism'. New York University, NY, USA 19 2018 - 21 Apr 2019
Metamodernist, Millennial Milieu in Performance
Drayton, T. 2018. Metamodernist, Millennial Milieu in Performance. 'Making Connections' UEL ACI PGR Conference 2018. University of East London May 2018
The Listening Theatre: A Metamodern Politics of Performance
Drayton, T. 2018. The Listening Theatre: A Metamodern Politics of Performance. Performance Philosophy. 4 (1), pp. 170-187. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2018.41200
Round and Round the Gardens: Can the RHS engage children with relevant environmental issues through immersive, promenade theatre?
Drayton, T. 2016. Round and Round the Gardens: Can the RHS engage children with relevant environmental issues through immersive, promenade theatre? ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2016: On The Edge. University of Birmingham, UK 02 - 09 Jul 2016 ASSITEJ International.